One of my favourite childhood treats was a traditional Hamburg cookie called the Hanseat. It was a simple, round, delicious cookie with a half pink and half white glaze; you could get them plain or filled with jam. My sister and I ate these all the time when we were growing up in Germany, so during my trip I bought her one to make her smile. Homeward bound, I finally arrived in Calgary, stayed with a friend, and drove myself home the next stay, stopping in Invermere at my sister’s work to present her with my gift! I did not prepare myself for the drive in terms of food, so I was starving. She had to leave her office for a minute. I broke off a chunk of cookie and ate it. She has not forgiven me since. My response? Sharing is caring.
Months ago I was driving, listening to CBC Radio and a segment came on about “The Sharing Economy”. It was wildly interesting to me, as it was completely relevant with my interests in zero-waste and minimalism. Some of the information was astounding, but also promising.
North Americans have too much stuff (obvi). The U.S.A leads in having the biggest self-storage industry, and Canada is in close second. Apartment dwellers tend to have limited space, so renting a self-storage unit may be applicable. However, our homes nowadays have basements, attics, and we tend to have garages, etc, yet people are still feeling the need for more space for their stuff, so they pay money to rent another garage to store more of their crap, instead of downsizing and re-evaluating (check out Andrea’s post on minimizing and a resourceful read).
One piece of the segment I found particularly interesting is the lifetime use of a power drill. In the average home, a drill is used an average of 13 minutes in its entire lifetime. Thirteen minutes! And there are over 80 million North American homes that house a power drill. Perspective?
In comes the Sharing Economy. There are more and more sharing capabilities coming about nowadays, such as car-sharing, home-sharing, tool libraries, public libraries, clothing swaps, garden/land sharing, and, heck, even cheese sharing (as Tammy suggested on Gippsland Unwrapped)! This definitely fits into the zero-waste and minimalist lifestyle, as you are not having to purchase new items that probably come wrapped in copious amounts of plastic packaging, and will end up taking up space in your home, probably collecting more dust than actually being useful.
Sure, the Sharing Economy will not benefit big companies, such as car rental, self-storage, taxi, etc, but there are always more than one way of doing things; specifically, there are always more sustainable ways of doing things. Think back to your grandparents’ days. I just got back from visiting my Oma who remembers her childhood during the second world war. Everything was shared within the community. Families cooked extra and used up every piece of an animal or vegetable, and then delivered leftovers to those who had very little. Items were traded either for other items, or for services (i.e. I will help you harvest your potatoes and you will give me part of the harvest). Things were not wasted. They were used. They were shared. They were made to last!
With the abundance of THINGS in North America, I think sharing is a great way to not just lower your spending, or lessen our impact on the environment, but also to rediscover what it means to connect with those around you. We are very far away from that, in my opinion, as we always seem to want things just for ourselves, to be able to call it mine, mine, mine. Our economy is based on consumption, not sustainability.
The article on CBC is very interesting, and gives lots of resources in the way of apps and organizations that are based on sharing resources. Give it a read and have a look if there is something useful for you or something that you did not know before. And next time you need a power drill, maybe just ask your neighbour first!
What sharing resources are available in your town? What have you experienced in terms of the Sharing Economy? Please share!